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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Montevallo Alabama

Montevallo Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Montevallo AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Montevallo AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Montevallo AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Montevallo AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Montevallo AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Montevallo AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Montevallo AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Montevallo AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Montevallo AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Montevallo AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Montevallo AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Montevallo home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montevallo AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Montevallo Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Right Montevallo Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montevallo Alabama.